For the love of willow.

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We have written about willow before. It is truly an incredible inhabitant of the land. We have friends with a river on their land and they have a lot of willow planted along the river banks. They were kind enough to let us coppice some of it for our new willow fence and plant supports. We also coppiced our dogwoods growing close to our cottage and ended up with a selection of beautiful young stems for weaving.

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We have a lot of Swiss spearmint growing beside our roundhouse by the stream and last year it grew very tall and collapsed out over the gravel path. We decided that a woven willow fence would be just the thing to sort out the problem. We had to pollard a few ash trees last year as they were growing up into the telegraph wires and we used a few of the cut of branches as fence posts.

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After cutting them with a chainsaw we hammered them into position with a sledge hammer. It was then time for the weaving and we started by placing the willow rods one each side of the end post and twisting it around itself one or two times before reaching the next fencepost and so on until we had woven them all in. We then added another two pieces slightly overlapping the first two and kept on in this fashion until we reached the other end post. We started over from that end and kept going forward and back along the length of the fence. After a while we added a section of dogwood for colour and variation, pushing down on our work to make the fence thick and robust. We added a few more rows of willow then more dogwoods and finally more willow.

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To finish the fence off we added some cut disks of wood to act as stoppers and keep all the willow in place. We are happy with the result and the cost to ourselves and the environment was a total of 13 screws to attach the wooden disks and a tiny bit of fuel for the chainsaw. The willow and dogwoods will grow back again, and all the while the roots of the plants are locking down carbon in their roots, fighting global warming and producing fantastic materials for small fencing and plant supporting needs.

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We wrote about our artichoke beds a couple of years back in this post. Our support around them had started to disintegrate but the uprights were still strong and we decided to push the old willow and dogwood down and add more fresh material to the top of the supports. Hopefully we will get another two years use of these structures before we need to replace them altogether.

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Over the next couple of weeks we are planning to add more plant supports to various places of the garden. We can’t think of any other materials that can do the job as well as the willow, a local, sustainable, constantly regenerating resource that add beauty as well as functionality to our green spaces.

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We have several living willow structures in our garden as well and you can read about them all in our special willow category of the blog.

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